Sep 13, 2012

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In-Flight Technology Use Set For Review

We all recognise that familiar announcement when, more often than not we’re sat on a plane taxiing to the runway for take off, not the one about your tray table, but fear inducing “please ensure all electronic gadgets are set to flight mode and turned off during take-off”. This is usually followed by a smiley, yet stern looking member of the cabin crew walking through the plane to ensure you’re not still watching your favourite film or playing a horrendously addictive game.

Most people will have turned everything off long before this point, having had the image instilled that if they leave anything turned on, the plane will suddenly stop working or get lost in the skies above in a 21st century Bermuda Triangle.

A short history of in-flight calls.

However the rules may be in line for a change in the coming years; in February 2012, Ryanair were the latest in a series of airlines to install technology some of its fleet which allows their customers to not only make and receive calls, but also communicate via text message and e-mail.

More recently, the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has announced plans to review the restrictions on the use of electronic devices in-flight. The FAA will be listening to comments from the public alongside conducting research into the issue. In the US, current regulations which require all “gadgets” to be turned off during take-off, approach and landing are determined by the airlines who decide when they believe it is safe for devices to be used.

While the review of current procedures will take into account many topics, it will not cover the use of mobile phones to make and receive calls during flights using VoIP technology (voice over internet protocol) though this is mainly in relation to the lack of phone etiquette rather than technology fears.

It remains to be seen if the US review will trigger a similar process in the UK, which could enable Brits to facebook mid-flight or tweet from the tarmac, however with the likes of Ryanair set to roll out in-flight communications technology to its whole fleet, it seems likely that discussions will need to be held at some point.

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